Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Virtuous Man-child

The man-child in films is obviously a favorite topic of mine.  

Yung-Hang Bruce Lai, a film researcher and critic, has written an interesting essay about a particular type of man-child - the virtuous man-child.  Click here for the full text.  

The focus of Lai's essay is a Chinese comedian, Wang Baoqiang, who became popular playing a kindly comic bumpkin in Lost on Journey (2010).  The bumpkin, Niu Geng, is a humble worker at a rural dairy.  A train trip brings Niu together with Li Chenggong (Xu Zheng), the CEO of a toy company.  Li is presented as a symbol of modern capitalism.  He is callous, cynical, rude and arrogant.  We have seen him in an earlier scene berating his staff and calling one of his employees "retarded."  He has lost old-fashioned virtues in his obsessive pursuit of money.  In contrast, the rural dairy worker is a throwback to simpler and more innocent times.  He has not been corrupted by the high-stress demands of the modern adult world.  He possesses a goodness and purity that is sorely lacking in today's career-driven men.  Baoqiang went on to play a similar character, Wang Bao, in Lost in Thailand (2012).  Lai wrote, "Niu and Bao’s innocence and kindness suggest that corrupt adults should learn from children."  During their journey, Niu manages through example to teach Li about trust, honesty and generosity.  Li feels great sympathy for a blind girl and pays for surgery to restore her sight.  So, as Lai wrote, ". . . a mature man learns from his childish buddy to become a better man."

The idea of pairing a boyish and softhearted man with a tough and cynical man can be traced as far back as Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928).  Bill Canfield (Ernest Torrence),a tugboat captain, sets out to toughen up his son, Bill Jr. (Buster Keaton).  A pretty young woman, Kitty King (Marion Byron), inspires the younger Canfield to heroic action.  His father, proud of Bill Jr.'s heroism, regrets his misjudgment of his son and softens in his feelings towards him.

The formula was applied with extraordinary success to Gomer Pyle.

A gruff sports reporter (Walter Matthau) and a sensitive news writer (Jack Lemmon) become mismatched roommates in The Odd Couple (1968).

Filmmaker extraordinaire Francis Veber took the concept to great heights with a long series of films: L'emmerdeur (1973), La Chèvre (1981), Les Compères (1983), Les fugitifs (1986), Le Dîner de Cons (1998) and Tais-toi! (2003).

Let's look, for example, at the plot of Les fugitifs.  François Pignon (Pierre Richard), an unemployed salesman, desperately needs money to obtain medical care for his young daughter Jeanne (Anaïs Bret), who has been mute since the death of her mother.  François attempts to rob a bank, but he is too clumsy and slow to get away before the arrival of the police.  He randomly takes a tough and burly customer, Jean Lucas (Gérard Depardieu), as a hostage.  The police, who recognize Jean from his notorious past as bank robber, are quick to assume that he is the criminal and François is the victim.  This assumption could not be more unjust.  Just that morning, Jean completed a prison sentence and swore to become a law-abiding citizen.  François and Jean escape capture and go on the run together.  In the process, Jean develops a strong bond with François and his young daughter.

The formula is used to perfection in Tais-toi! (in English: Shut up!).  Ruby (Jean Reno) and Quentin (Depardieu)  are cellmates in a prison.  Ruby is a cynical gangster who has a reputation for being a lone wolf.  He is much different man than Quentin, a dim-witted petty thief who is irritatingly gregarious.  Ruby cannot believe that anyone can be as stupid as Quentin.  He assumes that the talkative and friendly Quentin is a police plant who is trying to learn where Ruby hide his stolen loot.  The two convicts escape from prison together.  As fugitives, the pair must cope with an endless series of problems.  Ruby comes to appreciate Quentin for being caring, honest, faithful, trusting and genial.  He learns through his new companion the value of friendship.

And then, of course, we have Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), which shares many similarities with Lost on Journey.  Let's examine the plot.  Neal Page (Steve Martin), an advertising executive, has strictly businesslike qualities.  He is logical, organized and controlled.  After attending a business meeting in New York City, he is anxious to return to his family in Chicago to celebrate Thanksgiving.  On the plane, he sits next to Del Griffith (John Candy), a cheery and talkative shower ring salesman.  The flight is canceled due to a blizzard and Neal and Del must take to the road together to get home.  Del is an uninhibited in his great love of people.   He is carefree and sometimes careless.  His carelessness with a cigarette causes him to accidentally set their rental car on fire.  Neal seeks efficient solutions to problems and is impatient with Del's foolish approach to problems.  But, in the end, Neal softens just as his many comic forebearers.  He ends up inviting Del to join his family for their holiday dinner.

Speaking of the holiday, I hope that everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.

Slaps for November 2022


The Bowery (1933)
I Covered the Waterfront (1933)
Exclusive Story (1936)
Nothing Sacred (1937)
The Trip to Tilsit (1939)
The Mortal Storm (1940)
That Hamilton Woman (1941)
Citizen Kane (1941)  
Maisie Goes to Reno (1944)
Murder, He Says (1945)
Undercover Maisie (1947)
Three Secrets (1950)
Elopement (1951)
The Galloping Major (1951)
My Favorite Spy (1951)  
Hammer the Toff (1952)  
The Desperate Hours (1955)
Firefox (1955)  
Deadlier Than the Male (1956)
The Apartment (1960)
The World of Suzie Wong (1960)
The Servant (1963)
The Great Gatsby (1974)
When She Was Bad (1979)
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Domestic Disturbance (2001)
Happily Ever After (2004)
Waitress (2007)

Rain Slideshow 3

Rain is a cinematic spice.  How less dynamic would this scene from The Train Robbers (1973) be without the rain?

Or this scene from Casablanca (1942)?


Other Men's Women (1931)
Another Language (1933)
Forsaking All Others (1934)
Penrod and Sam (1937)
Canyon Passage (1946)
The Get Away (1941)
Casablanca (1942)
Going My Way (1944) 
Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947)
Welcome Stranger (1947)
Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)
Tenth Avenue Angel (1948)
Elopement (1951)
The Galloping Major (1951)
The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)
The Square Jungle (1955)
Reach for the Sky (1956)
Psycho (1960)
The World of Suzie Wong (1960)
The Family Way (1966) 
A Touch of Class (1973)
The Train Robbers (1973)
The Evil (1978)
Just a Boy's Game (1979)
Cat People (1982)
Way Upstream (1987)
The Dream Team (1989)  
Nobody's Fool (1994)  
Grumpier Old Men (1995)
What Women Want (2000)  
A Time to Remember (2003)  
Raising Helen (2004)
A View of Love (2010)
The Women on the 6th Floor (2010)
The Great Gatsby (2013)
The Girl Who Believed in Miracles (2021)
Deep Water (2022)
Love's Portrait (2022)  

Tidbits for November 2022

Let us start off this month with photos of Lloyd Hamilton

Billy Bevan in Shining Victory (1941)

Heinie Conklin (to the right)
 in Tenth Avenue Angel (1948) 

Nazi spies engage in their morning calisthenics in Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939).

dog mommy

Only Two Can Play (1962)

mud puddle

A mud puddle is often hidden in a comedian’s path. 

Can't Help Singing (1944)

Canyon Passage (1946)


Top Hat and Spuds Nose (1974)

water gag

Going My Way (1944)


The Goat (1981)

split screen romance

Walk, Don't Run (1966)

Lazzi of Fear

Murder He Says (1945)


Salut Salon

I have recast a few films using Reface.

Jimmy Stewart as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)

Oliver Hardy as John Wayne

Oliver Hardy as The Tin Man

Stan Laurel as Beetlejuice

Monday, September 5, 2022

Tidbits of September 2022

Jimmy Finlayson in She Knew All The Answers (1941) 

Billy Bevan

God's Country and the Woman (1937)  


Holy Matrimony (1943)

Charles Conklin

Frisco Jenny (1932) 

Pokes and Jabs

Edmund Lowe and Janis Carter are a slapstick Nick and Nora Charles in The Girl in The Case (1944).

seltzer bottle: Pot o' Gold (1941) 


revolving door: Always a Bride (1953) 


broken foot routines: Lost and Found (1979)



frog: Are You Being Served Secrets and Scandals  


banana peel: The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)  


pie: No Kidding (1960)  


pie: The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968)  


follow that car: Dangerous When Wet (1953)

unconscious woman: Doctor at Sea (1955) 

 unconscious man: Lost and Found (1979)

Dog Mommies

A Cuckoo In The Nest (1933)  

Fools for Scandal (1938)  

The Man in Grey (1943)

Always a Bride (1953)  

Il Seduttore (1954)

All In a Night's Work (1961) 

Water Gags

The Girl in The Case (1944)

Le Pompier des Folies Bergères (1928)
Busy Bodies (1933)  
Miss Tulip Stays The Night (1955) 
Carve Her Name with Pride (1958)
No Kidding (1960) 


Rain Slideshow 2

The Bitch (1931)
Consolation Marriage (1931)
Other Men's Women (1931) 
Pilgrimage (1933)
Jamaica Inn (1939)
Saloon Bar (1940)
Four Mothers (1941)   
The Man in Grey (1943) 
They Met in the Dark (1943)
Summer Storm (1944)
Scarlet Street (1945)
Johnny Frenchman (1945)  
A Scandal in Paris (1946) 
The Big Sleep (1946)
Piccadilly Incident (1946)
Quiet Weekend (1946)
Dark Passage (1947)
So Well Remembered (1947) 
Temptation Harbour (1947)
Johnny O'Clock (1947)
The Galloping Major (1951)
Dangerous When Wet (1953)
There's Always Tomorrow (1955) 
Soldier of Fortune (1955)
The Last Command (1955) 
Value for Money (1955)
Reach for The Sky (1956)
The Brave One (1956)  
Indiscreet (1958)  
Carve Her Name with Pride (1958)
Hell Bent for Leather (1960) 
No Kidding (1960)
Son of Flubber (1963) 
Savage Sam (1963) 
Georgy Girl (1966)
At Last The 1948 Show (1967) S02E03 rain
With Six You Get Eggroll (1968)
Shoot Out (1971) 
The Lovers! (1973)
A Touch of Class (1973)
Back of Beyond (1974)  
Used Cars (1980) rain
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990)
Enchanted April (1991)
Grumpier Old Men (1995) 
The Evening Star (1996) 
Cast Away (2000)
The Women on the 6th Floor (2010)
A View of Love (2010)
My Son (2021)
Better Call Saul S06E12 ("Waterworks," 2022)
Jerry & Marge Go Large (2022)


Other Men's Women (1931)
Frisco Jenny (1932)
The Conquerors (1932)  
Professional Sweetheart (1933)
Pilgrimage (1933)
The House on 56th Street (1933) 
After Office Hours (1935)
God's Country and the Woman (1937) 
Hold That Kiss (1938)  
 The Women (1939)
Jamaica Inn (1939)  
The Sea Wolf (1941)
The Man in Grey (1943)
They Met in the Dark (1943)
Two Thousand Women (1944) 
They Were Sisters (1945)  
Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) 
Waterloo Road (1945) 
Piccadilly Incident (1946)  
I See a Dark Stranger (1946) 
Monsieur Beaucaire (1946)
The Big Sleep (1946)
The Red House (1947)
So Well Remembered (1947)  
Jassy (1947)
Johnny O'Clock (1947)
The Dude Goes West (1948)
Noose (1948)
Broken Journey (1948)
Knock on Any Door (1949)  
Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949)
Madame Bovary (1949)
The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)
Ticket to Tomahawk (1950)
My Forbidden Past (1951) 
The Raging Tide (1951)
Cosh Boy (1953) 
The Long Memory (1953) 
Second Chance (1953)
Always a Bride (1953)
Soldier of Fortune (1955) 
Track The Man Down (1955) 
The Rawhide Years (1955)
Track The Man Down (1955)
I Died a Thousand Times (1955)
Doctor at Sea (1955)
The Last Wagon (1956)
Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957)
The Goddess (1958)
Carve Her Name with Pride (1958)
The Shaggy Dog (1959)
The Impersonator (1961)
The Music Man (1962)
Savage Sam (1963)   
Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) 
Georgy Girl (1966) 
The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968)
The Night of the Following Day (1968)
Marlowe (1969)
Cold Turkey (1971)
Shoot Out (1971)   
The Lovers! (1973)  
Turning Point (1977) 
The One and Only (1978)  
Used Cars (1980)
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Stakeout (1987)
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990)
Unforgiven (1992)
Goodnight Mr. Tom (1998)
About Love (2017) 
My Son (2021)